Keychain, a new AI-powered platform that helps expedite the process for consumer brands and retailers to identify customized manufacturing partners, has officially launched with a $18 million seed raise.
The funding round, which was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with additional participations from Box Group, Afore Capital, SV Angel, and 20-plus CPG professionals, aims to build the world’s most comprehensive platform for the CPG supply chain through clarity and convenience.
Keychain was founded by post-exit entrepreneurs, Oisin Hanrahan and Umang Dua, who previously guided and sold their home services provider Handy to Angie in a nine-figure deal before becoming CEO and CRO
The idea for this new technology tool was born out of the CPG industry’s collective challenge with self-manufacturing, and the rise of private-label products that typically can better control their overhead cost and price more competitively against emerging brands.
“More than half of the brands today we see on shelf no longer make their own products,” Hanrahan recently said in an interview. More importantly, he noted how the emergence of tailored food solutions for certain dietary trends, such as dairy-free, also drives the need for more customized manufacturing.
“Finding a manufacturer is actually the hardest part: in the U.S., there are 20,000 manufacturers producing half a trillion dollars worth of products,” Hanrahan explained. “In order to find them, you typically have to go to trade shows or you work with brokers and visit factories before engaging in a long chain of emails” which further slows down the product development process.
Manufacturer Pairing Within Minutes To Hours
Keychain, currently employing about 40 team members researching and categorizing manufacturers based on their capabilities, capacities, etc., as well as training AI models, anticipates to pair brands with ideal partners within minutes to hours, according to Hanrahan.
“We can shortcut the validation processing as well after a retailer logs in and uses our own proprietary and licensed data, verifying and auditing the partner; it will be extremely rapid,” said Hanrahan. “If anything, we want to make sure these manufacturers are better vetted than before, holding a higher standard in terms of environmental impact and the quality of ingredients.”
The company didn’t disclose details on its monetization model, but mentioned how clients on both manufacturing and brand sides will pay for the service. Keychain will target U.S.-based food and beverage brands initially before branching out into other categories and geographies, likely Canada and Mexico, in the near future.
“We love what the team is building at Keychain,” Raviraj Jain, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, said in a public statement. “They’re tackling a thorny, real-world problem with smart technology and a deep understanding of how to build a marketplace. Lightspeed is proud to lead Keychain’s seed financing and support them on their mission to create a more efficient, accessible supply chain for packaged goods.”
Ultimately, Keychain aims to help its partners navigate the entire manufacturing process, from competitive intelligence and manufacturer sourcing, all the way to terms negotiation, onboarding, and compliance, the company said.